The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame + Museum


Posts by Jason Hanley

American Music Masters Moments: Solomon Burke

Monday, October 31: 3 p.m.
Posted by Jason Hanley
Wearing his custom hat, Solomon Burke performs from his throne at the 2005 AMM tribute to Sam Cooke

American Music Masters Moments: Solomon Burke is the third installment in a series that shares stories from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's American Music Masters® events through the years. The first post in the series remembered Les Paul, while the second recalled the 2010 tribute to Fats Domino and Dave Bartholomew. Beginning in 1996 with a tribute to Woody Guthrie, the American Music Masters series has honored artists who've been instrumental in the development of rock and roll with a range of events celebrating their careers. Each AMM brings together musicians from around the world, setting the stage for special, once-in-a-lifetime moments. These are those stories.

One of my favorite memories is from the 2005 American Music Masters honoring Sam Cooke. I spent four days working with legendary soul singer and 2001 Hall of Fame inductee Solomon Burke. During that time, I went to rehearsals with him, interviewed him about his music and life, ate meals with him and his family, and even went hat shopping with him. One of his classic stage moves was to wear a beautiful fedora-style hat during his performance and then toss it into the crowd at the end of his ...


continue Categories: Inductee, Event, Hall of Fame, American Music Masters, Education, Exclusive Interviews

AC/DC's 'Back in Black' - a retrospective

Monday, July 25: 5:50 p.m.
Posted by Jason Hanley

On July 25, 1980 AC/DC released Back In Black, an album that became an instant classic and is still one of the top selling rock albums worldwide.  It is not hard to hear why.  In the liner notes to the 2003 re-issue of the album David Fricke wrote that “Back In Black was, and still is, a marvel of rock & roll synchronicity.”  The record features songs that are still classic rock anthems today including “You Shook Me All Night Long” and “Rock and Roll Ain’t Noise Pollution.”  Produced by rock legend John “Mutt” Lange, the entire forty-two minutes are filled with heavy melodic guitar riffs, a steady pounding rock rhythm section, and the gritty, screeching voice of…Brian Johnson.

The story of Johnson’s role as lead singer is what pushes Back In Black past the realm of classic albums and into the space of rock mythology.  The album was a rebirth for the band only months after previous lead singer Bon Scott passed away February 19, 1980.  At the time, it seemed amazing that AC/DC could find a new singer who captured the passion, growl, and attitude of Scott’s voice – a voice that was at ...


continue Categories: Inductee, Today in Rock

An afternoon with members of Jefferson Starship at the Rock Hall

Tuesday, June 7: 5:22 p.m.
Posted by Jason Hanley

Three members of Jefferson Starship appeared at the Rock Hall on Friday for an afternoon of performance and conversation, including Chris Smith, David Freiberg (who was also an original member of Quicksilver Messenger Service), and Hall of Fame Inductee Paul Kantner (Jefferson Airplane).  The group was in town to perform an evening of music with Cleveland’s Contemporary Youth Orchestra – Kantner mentioned it would be the first time they ever worked with an orchestra in a live concert.

During the afternoon session at the Rock Hall the group performed songs from the very first Jefferson Starship album,  Blows Against the Empire (1970 - technically a Paul Kantner solo record that was the beginning of the band), including “Baby Tree” and “Have You Seen The Stars Tonight,” and thrilled the audience with the Quicksilver Messenger Service song “Pride of Man.”  Kantner and Freiberg then talked about what it was like for the two of them living in San Francisco in the late 1950s and early 1960s when, as Freiberg said, the Beatniks were still hanging around.  The most interesting conversation came when Kantner described how he had conceived of Jefferson Starship in the early 1970s as a collective of musicians who all ...


continue Categories: Education

Rockin' the Schools on the Radio

Wednesday, December 22: 1:03 p.m.
Posted by Jason Hanley
Students learn about financial literacy in Rock Hall Education programs

A few weeks ago, local NPR station Ideastream®’s reporter Michelle Kanu visited the Rock Hall to sit-in on a couple of our popular Rockin’ the Schools classes.  Now celebrating its tenth anniversary, Rockin’ the Schools brings approximately twenty thousand students and teachers from Northeast Ohio and beyond into the Museum’s state-of-the-art Foster Theater to learn about the history and significance of rock and roll music.  All of the classes are designed so that while students are enjoying the music they are also learning about key concepts in Fine Arts, Science, Language Arts, Social Studies, and Technology.  As a teacher in the program for the last seven years I always love watching students as they begin to understand the important part rock and roll played in the Civil Rights movements of the 1950s and 60s, or when they start to understand how hip-hop artists like Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five related “The Message” of what life was like in the Bronx, NYC in the late 1970s to an audience around the world.  Each of the programs is supported with materials for teachers to use in their classroom so that the lessons can begin in the classroom before the ...


continue Categories: Education

Dr. John, Fats Domino, and the piano

Monday, November 8: 12:44 p.m.
Posted by Jason Hanley
Pictured from top: Fats Domino; Dr. John

Over the past few weeks I have traveled to New Orleans several times and had the chance to see Dr. John perform live at Lafayette Square, play with the band Widespread Panic, and even sit next to him as he played in a small rehearsal studio just west of the French Quarter.  Each time my eyes were fixed on his hands as he moved them effortlessly across the keys.  What an amazing player; Dr. John holds the history of New Orleans piano music in his head and the soul of the sound in his hands.

The reason I’ve seen him so many times is that Dr. John and his band, the Lower 911, will be the house band for the upcoming American Music Masters Tribute to Fats Domino and Dave Bartholomew.  It is a perfect combination: Dr. John leading the band that will honor one of the giants of rock and roll piano, Fats Domino.  As you can imagine I have been thinking a lot about the music of New Orleans, the piano style of Fats Domino, and the rhythms of Mardi Gras.  What makes Fats’ music so exciting is the way it blends together several major musical ideas ...


continue Categories: American Music Masters, Inductee, Education

Hitsville USA

Tuesday, August 3: 12:10 p.m.
Posted by Jason Hanley
Rock Hall inductee Dennis Edwards of the Temptations (right) with Director of Education Jason Hanley

Last week at the Rock Hall the buzz was all about Hitsville USA.  On Wednesday the Education Department featured a Rock and Roll Night School program on Motown, and on Friday we welcomed Inductee Dennis Edwards of the Temptations for an afternoon Hall of Fame Series event.  And don’t forget that this week is your final chance to see the excellent exhibit MOTOWN: The Sound of Young America Turns 50.

This month’s Rock and Roll Night School, our second on the music of Motown, focused on the years 1964 to 1967, when the label was hitting its stride, cranking out hit after hit, and going head to head with the sounds of the British invasion.  Several factors lead to Motown’s success during this period.  One was Berry Gordy’s vision and business smarts.  By owning the recording, publishing, marketing, distribution, and management he was able to connect every part of the music business and control the sound and image that became the Motown brand.  Another key development was connecting a team of songwriters to a specific musical group.  In the case of Holland-Dozier-Holland this meant teaming with the Supremes and the Four Tops, and the result was ...


continue Categories: Hall of Fame, Exhibit, Education, Exclusive Interviews, Rock and Roll Night School

Remembering Ronnie James Dio

Tuesday, May 18: 5:02 p.m.
Posted by Jason Hanley
Heaven and Hell pose with Rock Hall staff Kathryn Metz, Jason Hanley and Reena Samaan on Aug 22 2009

My heavy metal heart is hurting – Ronnie James Dio is gone.  When Dio died of stomach cancer on Sunday May 16th the rock world lost one of its greatest voices.  Passionate heavy metal fans love to argue about their favorite bands, but no one disagrees about Ronnie James Dio.  You could claim that you liked one singer more than another, or that Maiden was better than Priest, but if you brought up Dio people would always say, “No fair, no one compares to Dio!”  It’s the reason why Jack Black and Kyle Gass made Dio the ultimate rock icon for Tenacious D and even featured him as the voice of rock in The Pick of Destiny.  (If you have not seen Dio play himself in the film’s song “Kickapoo” go find it now!)

Dio’s voice had ultimate power and ultimate control.  It was often called operatic in much the same way that people think of Roy Orbison’s voice.  While Dio’s voice came to represent heavy metal, he reached early success as a hard rock singer in the band Elf.  Listen to his vocal and emotional range on “Never More” from Elf’s self titled debut ...


continue Categories: Other

Jazz Rock Fusion and the Rise of Progressive Rock

Tuesday, April 27: 5:39 p.m.
Posted by Jason Hanley

This past week, Cuyahoga Community College (Tri-C) offered its 31st annual Jazz Fest in the city of Cleveland with events that ranged from community programs to all-star jazz performances.  This year the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum partnered with the Jazz Fest to offer two evening programs that explored the connections between jazz and rock.

On Monday April 19th the Rock Hall screened the film Miles Electric: A Different Kind of Blue directed by acclaimed filmmaker and friend of the Museum, Murray Lerner.  The film looks back to the period of musical transition from Miles Davis’ freebop quintet to what later became known as electric Miles, culminating with uncut footage of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductee’s legendary performance at the 1970 Isle of Wight Festival.  It wasn’t rock and roll, although Bitches Brew (1969) came close, but Davis’ style wasn’t far removed from the acid rock and funk that was filling the airwaves in the late 1960s.  For some extra fun check out the records his wife Betty Davis made starting in 1973 – awesome!  Davis’ band at the Isle of Wight consisted of powerhouse jazz players including Gary Bartz (saxophone), Chick ...


continue Categories: Rock and Roll Night School
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